Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun & Anthony Roger's Article, "Don't Shoot Us, We Are Just the Messenger: Another Grammatical Mistake in the Qur'an"


Bassam Zawadi


Their article can be located here.

They said:

The verbs fatiya and qoola are both in the dual form, and therefore refer to two persons, whereas the pronoun inna is in the plural form. It is correct to use the dual here since in the context Allah is addressing Moses and Aaron, commanding these two to go and confront Pharaoh concerning letting the Israelites go.

However, the word for messenger, rasoolu, is a singular nominative masculine noun, despite the fact that this is supposed to refer to both Moses and Aaron.

Here is our literal translation, which helps capture the grammatical mistake that is found in the Arabic:

Both of you go to Pharaoh and both of you say: "We are the messenger of the Lord of the worlds."

Now this could have all been avoided by simply changing the word rasoolu to rasoola, which is in the dual form. Ironically, the Quran actually uses this correct form in the following passage dealing with the same issue of Allah sending Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh:

`So go ye both to him and say, `We are the Messengers of thy Lord; so let the Children of Israel go with us; and torment them not. We have, indeed, brought thee a great Sign from thy Lord; and peace shall be on him who follows the guidance; S. 20:47, Sher Ali


Fatiyahu fa-qoola inna rasoola rabbika ...

And with this, the mystery is solved: the reason for the differences between translations and the confusion and/or duplicity of many of the translators results from an attempt to clean up and/or hide a grammatical problem found in the Arabic text of the Qur'an. A correct translation of the Arabic text is also an incorrect one grammatically, because the Arabic text itself is grammatically in error. This is just what we would expect to find if the Qur'an is the product of a semi-illiterate pagan, and not at all what we would expect to find if the Qur'an is the direct speech of the omniscient God.

Imam Al-Qurtubi has it in his commentary:

قوله تعالى: { فَأْتِيَا فِرْعَوْنَ فَقُولاۤ إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ } قال أبو عبيدة: رسول بمعنى رسالة والتقدير على هذا؛ إنا ذوو رسالة رب العالمين.

Allah says, "Both of you go to Pharaoh, and both of you say, "We are the messenger of the Lord of the worlds."

Abu 'Ubaydah said: Messenger here means message, and the assumption is based on that. We are the possessors of the message of the Lord of the worlds.

After this, Imam Al-Qurtubi cites lines of Arabic poetry illustrating that rasool (most often translated as messenger) could sometimes mean risaalah (most often translated as message).

Then he goes on to say:

 قال أبو عبيد: ويجوز أن يكون الرسول في معنى الاثنين والجمع؛ فتقول العرب: هذا رسولي ووكيلي، وهذان رسولي ووكيلي، وهؤلاء رسولي ووكيلي. ومنه قوله تعالى:
فَإِنَّهُمْ عَدُوٌّ لِيۤ }
[الشعراء: 77]. وقيل: معناه إن كل واحد منا رسول رب العالمين.

 Abu 'Ubayd said: And it's possible that Al-Rasool could used in the dual or plural form. The Arabs say: This is my messenger (rasooli) and agent, and these two are my messenger (rasooli) and agent, and these are my messenger (rasooli) and agent. An example of this is from Allah All Mighty's Speech:

            "They are an enemy to me" (26:77)

And it is said: It means that every one of us is a messenger of the Lord of the worlds. (Abu 'Abdullah al-Qurtubi's, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 26:16, Source) 

From Ibn Kathir's commentary:

(And go both of you to Fir`awn, and say: `We are the Messengers of the Lord of the all that exists.') This is like the Ayah,

﴿إِنَّا رَسُولاَ رَبِّكَ﴾

(Verily, we are both Messengers of your Lord) (20:47). which means, `both of us have been sent to you,(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

Those knowledgeable of the Arabic language found no grammatical problems in this passage.



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